Culture Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis admitted yesterday that he learned last week about potentially one of the most significant archaeological finds in Greece for many years by watching a TV news bulletin rather than being informed by his staff.
Voulgarakis made the comment during a press conference to mark his first year in charge at the Culture Ministry.
He wanted to use the opportunity to give a rundown of the achievements during his time as minister but he also revealed some of the problems that blight his department.
“There are sticking points and slow reflexes at the ministry,” Voulgarakis said. “I was informed about the discovery of the ancient theater in Menidi by the TV news programs.”
The minister blamed the poor response on junior ministry staff.
Excavation work at a site in Menidi, northern Athens, led to the discovery last week of sections of an ancient Greek theater which is likely the fabled 4th century BC ancient theater of Acharnae, according to archaeologists, who said it may be a “sensational” find.
Greek and foreign archaeologists have been searching for the Acharnae theater for the past two centuries.
Voulgarakis also accepted that his ministry had not handled well last month’s auction in London of heirlooms once owned by the former Greek royal family. He said that experts were currently cataloging all the valuable items at the former royal estate in Tatoi, north of Athens, to make sure the same mistakes would not be made again.
Despite the problems described by the minister, he said that he was pleased by his first year in the job after he was reshuffled – in a surprise move – from his previous position as public order minister.
“I think things are going well,” said Voulgarakis, who emphasized his satisfaction with Greece securing the return of a number of artifacts from abroad.
He said that he would now like his ministry to focus on issues relating to contemporary culture such as cinema and books.